Why France’s Ban On Free Soda Refills Should Set A Standard For The Rest Of The World


France took another step in battling obesity this week by banning free refills of sodas in restaurants. According to The New York Times, the decision follows France’s decision to remove vending machines from schools in 2004 and limiting french fries to once a week in 2011. This also follows a “soda tax” on sugary soft drinks in 2012, all aimed to curb the “relentless rise” in France’s national obesity rank.

The main target of the new law seems to be fast food restaurants, like McDonald’s and Burger King, that typically serve unlimited refills with their meals:

The law, which takes effect immediately, said it aimed to “limit, especially among the young,” the risks of obesity and diabetes.

The move by France is in line with recommendations by the World Health Organization, which has urged countries to impose a tax on sugary drinks to battle an increase in obesity, presenting data in 2016 on the beneficial health effects of such a tax.

The French are, on average, less overweight than other Europeans and Americans. The share of obese adults (age 18 and older) in France was 15.3 percent in 2014, just below the European Union average, 15.9 percent, according to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union. Malta has the highest share of adult obesity of European nations, 26 percent.

In the United States, it is 36.5 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This type of move shouldn’t be considered a drastic step in light of what we know about soft drinks and their effect on our bodies. While fine in moderation or as a treat, too much soda has links to cancer and has always been a nightmare for dental health due to the acidity of the drinks. That’s not to say soda should go away entirely, but it should become less of a go-to beverage with meals and definitely shouldn’t be given free refills.

Not everybody is on board with this decision by France, though. For some, it’s more a matter of personal responsibility as opposed to something that the government needs to step in and regulate:

The new law has divided the French, who consume fewer soft drinks per capita than residents of most other countries. “Each person has to take responsibility,” a 21-year-old man told the newspaper Le Parisien. Restaurants “might as well put scales in front of each fast-food joint.”

Change is definitely something that people dislike, so this kind of response is understandable. You don’t want anybody telling you what you can and cannot do, especially when it comes to food. But in the end, this decision will be beneficial to the nation and could be something the rest of the globe pushes for. The benefits of not drinking soda are there if people are willing to give it a shot.

(Via New York Times)